Worlds Competition at St. Louis, Missouri

On the evening of April 21st, the RoboLancers set out on a 15 hour bus ride to St. Louis, Missouri. As the winner of the Chairman’s Award (an award given to the team that “embodies the the purpose and goals of FIRST”) in both the city and regional competition, the RoboLancers were eligible to go to the Worlds competition.

Of course, the fee for this trip was not cheap. However, our generous sponsors, including the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University, as well as the alumni of Central High School and other generous donators, have all pitched in enough money in order to pay for all the expenses.

We stayed in St. Louis, Missouri for a total of 5 days. Conveniently, we stayed at the Westin Hotel, which was only a short walk’s distance away from the competition arenas. Upon arrival at the arena (which was actually a football field), most of the seats were filled, with the exception of the seats on the upper-level. This was quite surprising, considering that only the FRC (FIRST Robotics Challenge) teams were in the stands.

Aside from the FRC teams, there were also many FLL (FIRST Lego League) teams there as well, although it was on a separate floor. The FTC (FIRST Tech Challenge) teams were kept in a completely different building due to the lack of space.

Green recycling containers in the center can be pulled over to your team’s side both during the autonomous and tele-operated phase. (Photo credits to Marie Planchard from SolidWorks

During the FRC competition, our robot underwent a significant change.   Most robots were able to grab the recycling containers in the center of       the field, which netted their team a huge bonus if they managed to place   it on top of a stack of totes (gray rectangular boxes). Without these two     recycling containers, it became much harder to outscore your opponent   unless they made a mistake or accidentally knocked over their stack.

As a result, in order to keep up with the other teams, we had to add our
own recycling can-grabbers. This was done during the competition, and it essentially is two metal rods that open up into a T shape in order to grab the backs of the recycling containers.

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Although we made significant improvements to our robot, we did not manage to win in our division (Newton division).

Of course, even without the robots, there were a lot of other things to do. For example, there was the Innovation Faire, located in the Renaissance St Louis Grand Hotel. There were a lot of companies, such as NVIDIA, Boeing, PTC, and LEGO. Many colleges seeking aspiring children and teenagers were there as well, including Yale University, MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), and Kettering University.

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Aside from that, I also managed to take a selfie with Woodie Flowers. No, not the wooden cardboard cutout version, but the actual person. Huge shout-out to Ariana Versace for managing to find Woodie Flowers amidst thousands of people, and of course, to Woodie Flowers for agreeing to take a picture with us.

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The trip to St. Louis, Missouri, was an amazing experience, and one that I hope to have again. Of course, even though we didn’t win, it was an eye-opening experience. This was our second time going to the Worlds competition. But you know what they say, third times the charm.

 

Would you like to see more pictures? If so, please click here.

 

[FRC] Springside Chestnut Hill Academy

On March 13 to March 14th, the Robolancers competed at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy. The unique thing about this year’s game was that the human players could slide silver totes (boxes used in the game) through a chute for the robots to grab. Stacking these silver totes into a specific white zone gave teams point. There is also a green recycling trash can that could be placed on top for even more bonus points. Robots can obtain totes and recycling trash cans through the huge assortment of silver totes near the center of the field.

Furthermore, the gold totes, if stacked in the center by both sides, would grant “coopertition” (cooperation + competition) points to both sides. The most unique thing, though, was the fact that human players could toss “litter” (pool noodles) over the wall of the field, as if they were gold Olympic medalist javelin throwers, into the opposing side for extra points.

Overall, the robot designs at the event were impressive. For example, Techfire, team 225, had a robot that allowed it to create two sets of two-stack tall totes (the boxes) at once. MOE, team 365, had a robot that resembled a forklift truck. Our team, team 321, had a series of hooks on a belt that rotated. This allowed our robot to snag on several totes at once.

However, we did encounter several issues, including parts falling off during matches. Despite all of these setbacks, we still ended up becoming the 8th seeding captain for the event, which meant we would be going to the semi-finals. We were paired with team 484, Roboforce, and team 3637, The Daleks. With their help, we landed in 2nd place by the end of the quarters-finals matches. By the time we reached the end of the semi-finals, we ended up in 4th place, which was a great accomplishment for the entire team.

Additionally, we also won a creativity award for our hook design, and for our extensive use of sensors. As one Robolancer member generously commented, we had a “bucket of sensors”.

FTC Philadelphia Championship

Hundreds of students across Philadelphia and the region, ranging from 4th–12th grade, will converge on Central High School Feb. 7 for the city-wide robotics championship match. The teams will compete in the 2015 FIRST Tech Challenge, “Cascade Effect.” In this exciting game, 15 teams will face off against each other in an alliance format. Winners of the FTC Philadelphia Championship will advance to the State Championship — and finally to the World Championship. Other awards include the PTC Design Award, the Winning Alliance Award, and the Finalist Alliance Award.

 

For weeks prior to the championship, robotics teams have been hard at work designing, building, and programming their robots from scratch. The game, “Cascade Effect,” is quite challenging, requiring teams to strategize in order to score the most amount of points. Teams have spent hours after school strategizing and creating a robot fit to compete. Central High School’s RoboLancers  hosted last year’s FTC Philadelphia Championship with hundreds of people in attendance to support their favorite robotics teams. Crowds are expected to be even larger this year.

 

The robots are remotely operated and are constructed by students using robotics system kits with basic tools and equipment utilizing professional mechanical techniques and creativity. “Cascade Effect” involves 160 white plastic balls with robots seeking to score points by placing the balls into rolling goals. The team with the most amount of points advances to the next round.

 

Teams from the following schools are scheduled to compete: Central High School, Boys’ Latin of Philadelphia Charter School, G.W. Carver High School, Freire Charter School, Frankford High School, Edison High School, Abraham Lincoln High School, Northeast High School, Murrell Dobbins/Allegheny West Foundation, Academy at Palumbo, and Olney Charter High School

 

FIRST (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an organization founded by Dean Kamen which seeks to inspire students from K-12th grade to pursue and lead STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields. Competitions such as FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition), FTC (FIRST Tech Challenge), and FLL (FIRST Lego League) blends the engagement of science and technology and the value of teamwork through friendly competitions with other FIRST teams while giving students rewarding experiences that follow them to whatever field they choose to pursue.

 

The Central High School RoboLancers is a FIRST Robotics Team founded in 1999 originally starting with a small classroom of students and now has grown to over 100 active members. The RoboLancers have participated in robotics events at multiple levels and have helped mentor many teams across the Philadelphia region, such as Girls High School, Independence Charter School, and Martin Luther King High School to raise awareness for the need of STEM education and occupations within Philadelphia and around the world. The RoboLancers have won many awards such as the Engineering Inspiration Award and have traveled to the 2013 FIRST World Championship in St. Louis, Missouri.


Special thanks to our wonderful sponsors: The Associated Alumni of Central High School, The Central High School Home and School Association, PTC, McKean, Comcast, Ignite Philly, Bresslergroup, Johnsonville, and P’unk Avenue.  

FTC States Competition [Crimson Edition]

On 3/1/14, 40 Robolancers, 20 Crimson, 20 Gold, went to Millersville University to participate in the FTC competition.

When we first arrived there, we set down everything and were calm. However, when we actually saw other people’s robots, we were amazed at how creative and amazing their designs were.  One of the robots even shot out blocks, similar to a cannon. We couldn’t really compete with them, having rebuilt and changed our entire robot in about 2 weeks, but we did try anyway. We came 27th place out of 37 teams, which wasn’t too bad actually. Although our original idea was to have the robot spin the flag, and THEN hang, we ended up only spinning the flag due to a silly mistake that no one noticed until the competition was over.

One of the things that really amazed me and made me smile were the costumes other teams had. I thought our Rock ’em Sock ’em costumes were ridiculously creative, but then I saw dragon costumes, viking costumes, a gorilla costume, and even a giant banana costume as well.

I really loved the team spirit there. Moe (the team that has everything colored in an unbearably bright green) was the team that I thought really had the most team spirit. Not that we didn’t try to compete with them in team spirit, though. Throughout that entire competition, Gold was basically cheering “Red Alliance!” while Crimson always cheered for the opposite team.

Even though we didn’t win, it was still a lot of fun, and an enjoyable learning experience that we hope to pass onto future FTC members that may be interested in Robotics.